Straight Down the Middle

As we near the end (of some peoples playing season,) one of my golf buddies invited our foursome and families over for a patio dinner before the weather starts turning cold(er). I offered to bring a cake along to the dinner. This is what I made this morning

It’s my extreme chocolate cake with buttercream frosting.

The trees are gum-paste cones made by wrapping thin gum-paste around a form, then set to dry overnight.

Of course, I rarely hit it straight down the middle!!

TBE Logo Cake

Robin asked for anyone planning to attend her and Andi’s Open House last night to let her know in advance so they could plan on what and how many desserts to expect. I immediately told her I would bring a cake. As this open house was in part to celebrate their new home (which was wonderful by the way.) I decided to celebrate the new 5f2349a5-ad83-4fd7-ac6d-47f32f3bbd8abranding of TBE by making a chocolate cake with the new TBE logo on top.  The cake and chocolate fudge frosting use the standard recipe found elsewhere in this blog.

The new TBE logo was designed with careful attention to both geometric design and color. I am not good with colors and only approximated the CMYK color of the actual image. The logo is made with cut out, rolled sugar cookies. I made a 3709785b-9975-4bc7-ae2d-fb2e189b5ce3template by printing the logo scaled to size. In this case the overall height was about 10″.  I then cut out the colored parts of the logo and placed the template on the rolled out cookie dough and trace the outline with a knife. Next, remove the template and carefully cut out the dough along the tracings and transfer it to a 4bc8d4aa-341f-4088-8d3a-edd0d5227ef9parchment covered cookie sheet., being careful not to distort the shapes. Check them against the template and correct any distortions. Bake the cookies as per the directions below and allow to cool. I actually made the cookies 2 weeks ago and froze them between layers of waxed paper.

The color was added by “float frosting” the shapes with colored royal icing. I made small recipes of royal icing (3 tbl meringue power, 1 cup powered sugar and 4–6 tablespoons warm water or enough to make the icing just barely pipeable. I am not sure pipeable is a word, but it is now.) Pipe the thick icing around the edges of the appropriate shape. In my case the star and the long curvy thing were blue (I used Wiltons Royal Blue gel icing.) The base and ASL sideways “L”, or if you are left handed its a backwards ASL sideways “L”,  was mostly yellow with a little orange. Once the edges are coated (don’t worry if it runs a little you can trim it later) pipe a bead around the top edge of the piece letting it just run into the sides to make a seamless seam (hmmmm.)  Once that is completed, dilute the royal icing with a couple more tbls of warm water to the point is just barely drips out of the piping bag. Flood the top of the cookie letting the icing run together into a solid smooth coating. Let it dry, or refrigerate if you are the annoying, impatient, Type A person. After refrigerating, I trimmed runny frosting from the edges of the cookies.

Arrange the cookie shapes on the chocolate cake. A bit of advice – make sure the top of the cake carrier will not squish the cookies into the cake and stick to the top of the carrier causing them to rip out of the cake when setting out for display. Just sayin.

Basic Sugar Cookie Recipe for Cut out Cookies

Incredients

  1. 3 cups all-purpose flour
  2. 1 teaspoon baking powder
  3. 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  4. 2 sticks (1cup) butter, unsalted, softened to room temperature
  5. 1 cup granulated sugar
  6. 1 large egg, room temperature
  7. 1 tbl vanilla extract, vanilla bean past or almond extract
  • Sift together flour, baking powder, add salt, set aside.
  • In a small dish whisk together egg and vanilla extract, set aside.
  • In a mixing bowl cream together room temperature butter and sugar, about 5 minutes, scrape the bowl twice. Butter and should be light and fluffy.
  • Gradually add vanilla egg mixture, beating anywhere from 30 seconds to minute until well mixed in.
  • Now gradually in 3 additions add flour. Lower the speed of your mixer to low. Scrape the bowl well after the last addition and beat just until flour is combined.
  • Scrape the cookie dough into a large bowl, and using your hand knead it for about 30 to 60 seconds, until dough comes together.
  • Wrap the dough in a plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight (8 hours) or minimum 4 hours.
  • Preheat oven to 375F
  • Divide cookie dough in half. Roll one half of the cookie dough into about 1/4 inch thick, between 2 pieces of parchment paper using rolling guides. (2 painter’s sticks glued together on each side, or 2 pieces of 1/4 inch molding.
  • Cut out the shapes. Place the cookies on a light colored baking sheet lined with parchment paper. (I use a double walled insulated baking sheet.)  You can re-knead and re-roll the dough to cut additional shapes. Chill the cut outs in the fridge for about 15 minutes or in the freezer 8 minutes. This will help them hold their shape during baking.
  • Bake for 9 min, depending on the oven, turn the sheet once half way through the baking.
  • Let the cooking cool on the baking sheet for 5-7 minutes, transfer to cooling rack.
  • Store in the airtight container for up to 2 weeks or freeze un-decorated cookies between pieces of wax paper in a large freeze safe container, for up to 2 months.

Take Me Out to the Ball… Park

For her birthday all Fran wanted was one of my cakes. For the woman who starts counting the days until pitchers and catchers report from the last out of the World Series (114 days) I thought a baseball themed cake would be perfect. I mulled it over for a while, discarding baseballs, gloves and bats before deciding on a baseball park.BB Stadium 3

As I often do, I searched Google images for ideas of a design for a baseball park cake. Not finding any that caught my eye or attention, I designed my own. The first thing I discovered is it is very difficult to make a small cake with any detail. I compromised and used M&M’s for fans and Peanut M&M’s for players. The scoreboard is a Hershey bar (one of Fran’s favs) with a Happy Birthday message piped with royal icing. You can tell I did that, the piping is mediocre and the penmanship is atrocious. The BB Stadium 4playing field is chocolate cake with the outfield carved into a curved radius and grand stands are white velvet cake baked in a bread loaf pan then cut at an angle to make parallel triangular wedges for the grand stands. Everything was crumb coated with white butter cream frosting, chilled overnight and a finish frosting coat added the next day.

The infield was made from green dyed butter cream and piped onto the cake with a grass tip (Wilton #233.) M&M’s were placed strategically around the ball park and the scoreboard on top of the right field grand stand.

Recipes for all cakes, frostings and icings can be found in other posts in my blog.

M&Mmmmmmmm Cake

M&M 3

If it works, don’t fix it. My chocolate cake is probably the best cake I make (In My Not So HO). The Heavenly White is a very close second, but I really think the chocolate is #1.

Anyway, when invited to Robin’s open house, and knowing Robin has some sort of M&M obsession (in the nicest sense of the word), and being asked to inform them if I was bringing a

MM 1 Small

dessert, I had some initial anxiety deciding on a “theme” for the cake (between a Robin’s Egg Blue cake, which could have been Heavenly White, or an M&M cake, which HAD to be chocolate) I ultimately chose the M&M cake. (Please see my Facebook “Chicken and Egg” post for a further discussion of life’s anxieties.)

I used a Wilton’s 3D Egg Pan which I found on eBay for $6. This is a very versatile pan if you want to make egg (bird, chicken, bunny, Fabrege, etc) or football, or even Peanut M&M shaped cakes. It is very important to allow the cake to cool completely. I untied the two pans and left them in place overnight, otherwise they are hard to remove from the pans and will break apart. Crumb coat the ovoid cake with a relatively thin version of the butter cream frosting. Add a little milk if it is too thick. Let the butter cream set for a couple of hours in the refrigerator. After it is set, put on some latex gloves and smooth the entire cake.eggpan 1 small eggpan 3 small

Roll out some red fondant and lay it over the cake, tucking it in and under the sides and smoothing as best you can. I am not good with rounded ends and can never get them smooth enough to satisfy me. If anyone has some tips here I would love to hear them. I do the typical stretch, smooth etc etc etc but it still wrinkles.

To make the “M” use the Rockwell font which is similar to what is found on the candy and print it about 2″ high. Cut the “M” our and use as a stencil. Roll out some gum-paste, lay the stencil over it and cut out the “M” using an Exacto knife. Wet the area backside of the the “M” and stick it in place on the cake.

Chocolate Cake

Ingredients

  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour the two Wilton 3D Egg cake pans. Use the first set of ingredients to make the cake. In a medium bowl, stir together the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla, mix for 3 minutes with an electric mixer. Stir in the boiling water by hand. Pour evenly into the one half of the egg pan. It should almost overflow. Place the empty half over the filled half, tie both halves together tightly with string and place in the oven balanced on one of the stabilizing ovals.

Basic Butter Cream

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup solid high ratio shortening
  • 1/2 cup butter softened
  • 1 teaspoon Clear Vanilla Extract (or extract of choice)
  • 4 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar (approx. 1 lb.)
  • 2 tablespoons milk

In large bowl, cream shortening and butter with electric mixer. Add vanilla and milk. Gradually add sugar, one cup at a time, beating on a slow speed. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl often. Keep bowl or covered with a damp cloth until ready to use. Refrigerated in an airtight container, this icing can be stored 2 weeks. Don’t overwhip or it will bring air to the icing and is impossible to smooth. If you have a kitchen Aid use white attachment, not whip attachment.

Thanksgiving 2013 or Another Step on the Road to Gluttony

OK, Turkey Day 4 is over and I am officially done. Turkey, sides and desserts 4 days in a row beat me. Of course, it is also Chanukah! I could tell because the one bottle of London Pub Ale miraculously transformed into eight bottles to last all eight days. (Claiming literary license here as I am only drinking one bottle per week these days.) Pumpkin Pie Chocolate Cake The pumpkin pie is actually a chocolate cake in disguise. Use about 1/3 of the batter and spread it out in a pie plate that was baked along with the rest of the batter which was put into two 6″ cake pans with their bottoms covered with quick release silicone sheets, greased and floured. (Only fill the pie platter a little less than half full or the cake will rise over the top.) Make a double batch of butter cream frosting. One cup was diluted slightly to make it easily spreadable and dyed with a mixture of orange and brown food coloring to match the color of the traditional pumpkin pie Fran made. This was spread over the top of the cake. Another cup was dyed to match the crust (more brown, less orange.) Use a #125 petal, or similar,  tip to pipe the darker brown frosting around the edge to form the crust and an open star tip to form the whipped cream from the balance of the white butter cream. (Save a little white buttber cream for later.) Dreidle Cake While the small chocolate cakes are baking, make a batch of chocolate frosting. You will need lots of chocolate frosting. Don’t be afraid to make a double batch here. It will not go to waste. Any left-over makes an excellent side for lunch or even a wonderful breakfast dessert. The two 6″ round chocolate cakes were cooled and one of the layers was cut into two thinner disks. One of the thinner disks was stacked on top of the full layer which was topped with a chocolate frosting cover, then the entire small cake was frosted. The remaining thin disk of cake was crumbled, mixed with a little chocolate frosting, shaped to resemble a turkey body, neck and head and then frozen. Don’t use all the chocolate frosting as you will need more than a cup for the turkey cake. While the oven is still hot make the Heavenly White cake in two 9″ parchment paper bottom lined round cake pans. While it is baking, make another (double) recipe of butter cream frosting. Dye 1/4 cup green, 1/4 cup blue, about 3/4 cup yellow and the rest dark orange. When cool, crumb coat the double layer Heavenly White cake and refrigerate. Use multiple piping bags as some colors will need to be used more than once. Use the blue frosting to pipe the outline and fill the dreidel. Smooth it with a spatula and use a petal tip or other ribbon making tip to pipe one of the Hebrew letters on the blue dreidel. (I made a Hei, it seemed the easiest.) This cake is complete. TurkeyCake1 Add about a tablespoon of milk to a cup of white butter cream and mix well to thin it. Use the thin frosting to coat the white cake with a smooth outer shell. I used a star tip to pipe the outer dark chocolate turkey feathers. Start about 2″ from the edge of the cake. As you squeeze the piping bag move slowly toward the edge then back towards the beginning point, releasing pressure as you go. Repeat as necessary to cover about 200 degrees of the perimeter of the cake. (I am basically a scientist. Deal with it.) Next use the dark orange butter cream and same tip form the next layer of feathers using the same technique. While you have the orange in the bag pipe the perimeter around the bottom of the cake. Pipe some of the yellow frosting inside the orange feathers and save the rest in the bag. Use the green frosting with a #233 grass tip to make the grass. Coat the frozen chocolate turkey-looking-thing with chocolate frosting, shaping it to be a little more turkey-ish. Lay it inside the semi-circle of yellow feathers and across the grass. Use the remaining yellow frosting to pipe the turkey feet. Use some remaining chocolate frosting to make the wings and dye a little left over white butter cream red to make the beak and comb. Taa-daa!

Chocolate Cake

Ingredients

  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour two 9 inch cake pans. Use the first set of ingredients to make the cake. In a medium bowl, stir together the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla, mix for 3 minutes with an electric mixer. Stir in the boiling water by hand. Pour evenly into the two prepared pans. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes in the preheated oven, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to cool completely.

Chocolate Fudge Frosting

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 5 1/3 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

To make the frosting, use the second set of ingredients. Cream butter until light and fluffy. Stir in the cocoa and confectioners’ sugar alternately with the milk and vanilla. Beat to a spreading consistency.

Recipe: Heavenly White Cake

Ingredients

  • 2 3/4 cups sifted cake flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 egg whites ( or substitute)
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Measure sifted flour, baking powder, and salt; sift together three times.
  2. In a mixing bowl, beat egg whites until foamy. Add 1/2 cup sugar gradually, and continue beating only until meringue will hold up in soft peaks.
  3. Cream butter or margarine. Gradually add remaining 1 cup sugar, and cream together until light and fluffy. Add sifted ingredients alternately with milk a small amount at a time, beating after each addition until smooth. Mix in flavorings. Add meringue, and beat thoroughly into batter. Spread into cake pans with parchment paper lining the bottom.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 30 to 35 minutes. Cool cake in pans for 10 minutes, then remove and transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Basic Crusting Butter Cream

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup solid high ratio shortening
  • 1/2 cup butter softened
  • 1 tablespoon of meringue powder
  • 1 teaspoon Clear Vanilla Extract (or extract of choice)
  • 4 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar (approx. 1 lb.)
  • 2 tablespoons milk

In large bowl, cream shortening and butter with electric mixer. Add vanilla and milk. Gradually add sugar, one cup at a time, beating on a slow speed. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl often. Keep bowl or covered with a damp cloth until ready to use. Refrigerated in an airtight container, this icing can be stored 2 weeks. Don’t overwhip or it will bring air to the icing and is impossible to smooth. If you have a kitchen Aid use white attachment, not whip attachment.

East is left and West is right

and who-da-thought they would meet for Thanksgiving at our house in 2011. Faced with the dilemma of having Republican political consultants and still newly weds Daniel and Frances home for Thanksgiving and tree-hugging lefty pinko liberal Fran’s birthday the same week, what cake do I make for their anniversary and birthday? Not having been born just yesterday I realized I needed to make two cakes.

The elephant cake for Daniel and Frances was my standard chocolate cake crumb coated with butter cream frosting and covered with white fondant.

The donkey (see how nice I am to use that descriptor?) was white velvet again crumb coated with butter cream and covered with fondant.

The emblems were carved from fondant and painted the traditional colors.

The stars both on the emblems and around the base were piped with red, white and blue colored butter cream frosting

The white velvet cake recipe are found at: I am not on the white velvet ropes yet!

Chocolate Cake

Ingredients

  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour two 9 inch cake pans.
  2. Use the first set of ingredients to make the cake. In a medium bowl, stir together the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla, mix for 3 minutes with an electric mixer. Stir in the boiling water by hand. Pour evenly into the two prepared pans.
  3. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes in the preheated oven, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to cool completely.